Pugh, Dunn make USWNT’s 20-player Olympic qualifying roster

United States women’s national team coach Jill Ellis released her 20-player roster for the upcoming Olympic qualifying matches with some interesting selections.  

Mallory Pugh, the 17-year-old prodigy who made her senior team debut by scoring a goal is USA’s 5-0 rout over the Republic of Ireland on Jan. 23, was included on Ellis’ roster on Tuesday. Pugh will join national team stalwarts Alex Morgan, Hope Solo and Christen Press in USA’s preparation for the CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship.

The team will play in the qualifying tournament for the North, Central and Caribbean region, scheduled for Feb. 10-21 in Houston and Frisco, Texas. The U.S. team opens group play against Costa Rica on Feb. 10. The roster includes 17 field players and three goalkeepers. Seven players were on the roster for the 2012 Olympic Games in London. The United States has won three straight Olympic gold medals.

MORE USWNT NEWS

Ellis’ decision to move towards a younger, more dynamic roster comes at no suprise. Stephanie McCaffrey, Crystal Dunn, Lindsey Horan, Samantha Mewis, Jaelene Hinkle and Emily Sonnett were also included in USWNT’s 20-player roster, while veterans Heather O’Reilly and Whitney Engen were left out.

"Yeah I’m loving it," Lloyd told reporters following USA’s 5-0 victory over the Republic of Ireland. "I love taking some of the younger players under my wing and seeing players like Sam Mewis step in, Jaelene Hinkle, Steph McCaffrey, Mallory Pugh. You know there’s a lot of new fresh faces out there and it’s refreshing. The just want to go out there, compete and win and it’s great to see.”

Megan Rapinoe, who is still recovering from a torn ACL suffered in Hawaii in December, said she will try to be fit in time for the Games in Rio. Sydney Leroux and Amy Rodriguez, who both played in the Women’s World Cup, are pregnant and won’t be able to take part in the Olympics.

The team’s first qualifying test will be against Costa Rica on Feb 10:

Full 20-player USWNT Olympic qualifying roster:

Goalkeepers: Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars) and Hope Solo (Seattle Reign FC).

Defenders: Jaelene Hinkle (Western New York Flash), Julie Johnston (Chicago Red Stars), Meghan Klingenberg (Portland Thorns FC), Ali Krieger (Washington Spirit), Kelley O’Hara (Sky Blue FC), Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City) and Emily Sonnett (Portland Thorns FC).

Midfielders: Morgan Brian (Houston Dash), Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC), Carli Lloyd (Houston Dash) and Samantha Mewis (Western New York Flash).

Forwards: Crystal Dunn (Washington Spirit), Stephanie McCaffrey (Boston Breakers), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride), Christen Press (Chicago Red Stars) and Mallory Pugh (Real Colorado).

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.